Boutwells at the U.S. Treasury Department
October 31, 2023
With thanks to the Curator's Office of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, my wife, Buthaina Shukri, and I were treated to a 90-minute tour of the Treasury Building in Washington, D.C. We saw the location of George Boutwell's ground floor office when he was Revenue Commissioner for Abraham Lincoln in 1862-1863, and his suite of offices in 1869-1873 as Treasury Secretary for Ulysses S. Grant.
The tour helped us imagine George's workdays at Treasury, especially during the Civil War when Union troops were quartered both in the basement and in the courtyard. We also saw where George was working on March 23, 1871, when he received an urgent summons from Ulysses Grant, asking him to come immediately to the Executive Mansion and accompany the President to Capitol Hill to urge Congress to pass the KKK Act. Also known as the Third Reconstruction Act, that statute is still in force today, outlawing interference with Members of Congress and other federal officials in carrying out the lawful execution of their duties, including certifying Presidential elections.
Creative Imagining Needed for Boston's Emancipation Group Statue
May 21, 2023
Read Jeffrey's commentary on how, two years after removing its copy of the Emancipation Group statue showing Abraham Lincoln and a formerly enslaved Black man grasping broken chains, it's time for the city of Boston to come up with an imaginative solution to publicly show this important piece of American history.
[Emancipation Group statue formerly in Park Square, Boston; photo by Jesse Costa, WBUR.]
George Boutwell and the Politics of Racial Equality
Talk for Tufts University Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
April 14, 2023
Jeffrey's talk, found online but requiring access request, focused on George's role in promoting Black equality from before the Civil War to the dying days of Reconstruction, working with Lincoln and Grant during what has been called America's "Second Founding" to ensure political and civil liberties for all. The talk was sponsored by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute of Tufts University.
(NOTE: when accessing the presentation you will need to request permission to view it.)
[Image courtesy of the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library]
When the Chief Justice Himself Was the Supreme Court Leak
The Baltimore Sun
January 26, 2023
Read Jeffrey's commentary about Chief Justice Salmon Chase leaking word of a pending Supreme Court decision on currency "greenbacks" to Treasury Secretary George Boutwell in 1870. The commentary is available online in The Baltimore Sun but requires a subscription.
Time for a New Emancipation Proclamation
The Boston Globe
December 27, 2022
Read Jeffrey's article in The Emancipator section of The Boston Globe on how the dynamics of maximizing Black voting power remain the same as they were on Great Emancipation Day in 1903 when George Boutwell and William Monroe Trotter, editor of Boston's Guardian newspaper, called for a New Emancipation Proclamation.
(photo credit, Ebony Magazine)
The Fallacy of a Colorblind Constitution
The Baltimore Sun and CommonWealth Magazine
October 22, 2022
Read Jeffrey's commentary in Boston's CommonWealth Magazine on how Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson rejected the notion of a "colorblind" Constitution in citing the work of George Boutwell and the other framers of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. The commentary is also available in The Baltimore Sun but requires a subscription.
Stop with the Scapegoating of the IRS
The Baltimore Sun
August 16, 2022
Read about George S. Boutwell as the first Commissioner of Internal Revenue working with Abraham Lincoln to fund the Union war effort in 1862 and its relevance to current day efforts to modernize the Internal Revenue Service.
The Emancipation Proclamation: Saying What Lincoln Couldn’t Say
Juneteenth Talk for the Groton Historical Society
June 19, 2022
View Jeffrey's talk, "George Boutwell and the Emancipation Proclamation: Saying What Lincoln Couldn’t Say, " about Boutwell's acting as Abraham Lincoln’s point man in advocating for emancipation, both as a moral duty and a military necessity, at a time when the president had to be cautious about getting ahead of public opinion. The accompanying PowerPoint is also available.
The Link Between Freedom and Golf's Biggest Event, the U.S. Open
The Boston Globe
June 16, 2022
Henry Wilson & the Civil War
George Boutwell, Almost President
The Groton Herald
February 25, 2022
Read Jeffrey's article in The Groton Herald about how George S. Boutwell might have become president after the assassination of President James A. Garfield. One year earlier, Boutwell had been a major player at the Republican National Convention in Chicago and was the choice of some in the party to join Garfield on the ticket. If he had, George Boutwell would have become the country's 21st President.
What to Do with Boston's Emancipation Statue?
The Groton Herald
October 8, 2021
Read an expanded version of Jeffrey's article in The Groton Herald on Boston's Emancipation Memorial statue detailing George Boutwell's involvement. The original article was published in Boston's CommonWealth Magazine (see below).
Don't Ship Emancipation Statue Away: Put It in a Museum
August 12, 2021
Read Jeffrey's article recommending that Boston's replica of Abraham Lincoln and a kneeling ex-slave holding broken chains be located with other exhibits of the city's Museum of African American History, such as a video/hologram of Frederick Douglass giving the original dedication speech and extracts from George Boutwell's Senate report on white supremacist violence in Mississippi in 1875.
(photo credit, Stuart Cahill/Media News Group/Boston Herald)
Richmond's Lee Statue, After 131 Years, Is an Unpardonable Insult
The Washington Post
July 11, 2021
Read Jeffrey's op-ed based on an 1890 newspaper editorial he discovered in George S. Boutwell's papers, entitled "An Unpardonable Insult," describing the ceremony at the unveiling of the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond, Virginia. More than 131 years later, we're still living with the consequences of memorials to the Lost Cause of southern white supremacy. A print version of the article is also available.
(photo credit, John McDonnell/Washington Post)
President Grant's Visit to Groton and the Gold Ring Scandal
The Groton Herald
June 17, 2021
Ulysses Grant spent the night at the Groton home of George Boutwell, his Secretary of the Treasury, on June 16, 1869, shortly after they had attended the extravaganza National Peace Jubilee in Boston. It was during the summer of 1869 that Wall Street operators Big Jim Fisk and Jay Gould (pictured left) were planning to manipulate the gold market, which Grant and Boutwell foiled on Black Friday, September 24, when they released four million dollars of Treasury Department gold into the market.
George S. Boutwell and the KKK Act
The Baltimore Sun
April 18, 2021
Read Jeffrey's article about how George helped President Grant initiate the KKK Act of 1871, which sought to protect Black voting rights in the South and today is the basis for federal lawsuits against Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and others for seeking to prevent Congress from carrying out its lawful duties in certifying the 2020 election. George and Ulysses took a famous carriage ride up Pennsylvania Avenue on March 23, 1871, that is helping protect American democracy 150 years later.
George S. Boutwell and Redeeming America's Promise
Lecture for the Groton Historical Society
February 28, 2021
Jeffrey spoke about his forthcoming book on George S. Boutwell to the 125th annual meeting of the Groton Historical Society. He highlighted George's special relationship with Presidents Lincoln and Grant, his role in the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson, and his Senate investigation of white supremacist violence in Mississippi in 1875. With the talk subtitle "St. George v. the Three Dragons," Jeffrey recounted George's interactions with three members of American political royalty who, like George, were all from Massachusetts: Henry Adams, Henry Cabot Lodge, and John F. Kennedy.
"It All Started with a Move to Groton in 1835"
Groton Herald Article, Op-Ed
January 28, 2021
Read the front page article on George Boutwell's remarkable political career from 1839 to 1905, all made possible when George moved at age 17 from the family farm in Lunenburg, Massachusetts, to take a job in a dry goods store and study law in nearby Groton in 1835. A separate opinion piece highlights the links between the Lost Cause of southern white redemption during the Reconstruction era in the 1870s and the white supremacist violence at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021.
Joseph Rotblat: Singular Figure of the Nuclear Age
Lecture at Los Alamos Historical Society
November 12, 2019
Jeffrey gave a talk on the life and career of the Polish nuclear physicist Joseph Rotblat, whom he knew for 20 years, to an audience of current and retired physicists and scientists at Los Alamos. The talk covered Rotblat's work on the atomic bomb at the Manhattan Project in the 1940s to the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. Rotblat and Pugwash were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995 for their efforts to limit nuclear weapons.
Hemingway fishing contest reels in U.S.-Cuba relations
CBS Evening News
May 28, 2015
Jeffrey was interviewed on CBS Evening News in May 2015 about U.S.-Cuba projects he organized promoting ocean fisheries conservation involving two of Ernest Hemingway's grandsons, John and Patrick Hemingway, as well as American and Cuban marine biologists.
(Pictured left to right are Jeffrey Boutwell, Master Angler Dr. Marty Arostegui, and John Hemingway, grandson of Ernest Hemingway)